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  • We are in uncharted territory.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on February 20th, 2018 (All posts by )

    On October 18, 2016 Barack Obama ridiculed anyone who could think the election could be rigged.

    OBAMA: I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place. It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts. … [T]here is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part, because they are so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved. There is no evidence that that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time. And so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whinin’ and go try to make his case to get votes.

    Then Hillary lost.

    In December 2016, Democrats were still trying to figure out what happened.

    This process, which is a form of what’s called confirmation bias, can help explain why Trump supporters remain supportive no matter what evidence one puts to them—and why Trump’s opponents are unlikely to be convinced of his worth even if he ends up doing something actually positive. The two groups simply process information differently. “The confirmation bias is not specific to Donald Trump. It’s something we are all susceptible to,” the Columbia University psychologist Daniel Ames, one of several scholars to nominate this paper, said. “But Trump appears to be an especially public and risky illustration of it in many domains.” (Ames and his colleague Alice Lee recently showed a similar effect with beliefs about torture.)

    One of those was a good observation. But what about the “Russia Collusion” story?

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Russia | 21 Comments »

    What Won’t Happen

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on February 20th, 2018 (All posts by )

    And why – in the wake of the latest horrific school massacre. What I mean is the banning of gun ownership in the US, or the abrogation of the Second Amendment, or the passing of so-called “sensible” new gun restrictions (which will be as little-enforced as the last set of so-called “sensible” restrictions). Not going to happen, no matter how emotional the demands by the ban-gun advocates scream, weep, stomp their feet and accuse gun-owners and organizations like the NRA of having blood on their hands. And no, we don’t much care how they do it in Europe, or Britain, or Australia. Weirdly enough, in the United States, the most violent cities are the ones with the most restrictions on personal firearms. Violent crime is generally the preserve of a distinctly urban racial sub-culture, which if omitted from the statistics, presents a very different picture when it comes to violent criminal activity in the US as a whole. That’s an anomaly and discussion for another time, although it does have slight bit of bearing on this one. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, RKBA | 49 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: How My Next Academic Article Begins

    Posted by Jonathan on February 19th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Since 2008, I have argued in multiple publications that the Foreign Emoluments Clause’s Office-language (and closely similar language in other constitutional provisions) reaches only appointed federal officers, and not any elected federal officials, including the presidency. My position has not gone entirely unnoticed; indeed, it has even occasioned some firm and thoughtful opposition. My goal in this Article is not to illustrate the full spectrum of views opposing my position on the subject. There are far too many such views—many of which contradict one another—many of which (do not appear to) have gone through any sort of independent review process, by student editors, by peer review, or otherwise. Instead, my more modest goal here is to illustrate how deeply idiosyncratic some of these views are—not merely in their conclusions, but more importantly in their broad methodological approach.

    Read the entire post.

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    Posted in History, Law, Politics, Trump | No Comments »

    A French Village: Complete Series Now Available

    Posted by David Foster on February 18th, 2018 (All posts by )

    I’ve previously mentioned this series, set in the (fictional) French town of Villeneuve during the years of the German occupation and afterwards.  It is simply outstanding – one of the best television series I have ever seen.  The program ran from 2009-207 on French TV, and all the seasons are now available in the US, with subtitles. Having now watched the whole thing, my very positive opinion of the series is sustained.

    Daniel Larcher is a physician who also serves as deputy mayor, a largely honorary position. When the regular mayor disappears after the German invasion, Daniel finds himself mayor for real. His wife Hortense, a selfish and emotionally-shallow woman, is the opposite of helpful to Daniel in his efforts to protect the people of Villaneuve from the worst effects of the occupation while still carrying on his medical practice. Daniel’s immediate superior in his role as mayor is Deputy Prefect Servier, a bureaucrat mainly concerned about his career and about ensuring that everything is done according to proper legal form.

    The program is ‘about’ the intersection of ultimate things…the darkest evil, the most stellar heroism….with the ‘dailyness’ of ordinary life, and about the human dilemmas that exist at this intersection. Should Daniel have taken the job of mayor in the first place?…When is it allowable to collaborate with evil, to at least some degree, in the hope of minimizing the damage? Which people will go along, which will resist, which will take advantage? When is violent resistance…for example, the killing by the emerging Resistance of a more or less random German officer…justified, when it will lead to violent retaliation such as the taking and execution of hostages?

    Arthur Koestler has written about ‘the tragic and the trivial planes’ of life. As explained by his friend, the writer and fighter pilot Richard Hillary:

    “K has a theory for this. He believes there are two planes of existence which he calls vie tragique and vie triviale. Usually we move on the trivial plane, but occasionally in moments of elation or danger, we find ourselves transferred to the plane of the vie tragique, with its non-commonsense, cosmic perspective. When we are on the trivial plane, the realities of the other appear as nonsense–as overstrung nerves and so on. When we live on the tragic plane, the realities of the other are shallow, frivolous, frivolous, trifling. But in exceptional circumstances, for instance if someone has to live through a long stretch of time in physical danger, one is placed, as it were, on the intersection line of the two planes; a curious situation which is a kind of tightrope-walking on one’s nerves…I think he is right.”

    In this series, the Tragic and the Trivial planes co-exist…day-to-day life intermingles with world-historical events. And the smallness of the stage…the confinement of the action to a single small village….works well dramatically, for the same reason that (as I have argued previously) stories set on shipboard can be very effective.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in France, Germany, History, Human Behavior, War and Peace | 10 Comments »

    New! – Your 2018 Poorer-But-Wiser Haiku Blowout

    Posted by Jonathan on February 16th, 2018 (All posts by )

     
    hurricane
     
    Minor hurricanes:
    Always worse than expected
    With much long-term harm.

    —-

    She cares not a whit
    About your gearhead hobbies,
    But your words – watch out.

    —-

    Earnings out today.
    They killed volatility.
    Those calls you bought? Ha.

    —-

    Your lawn guy vanished.
    Perhaps he was deported?
    That’s the way to bet.
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Poetry | 3 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: How My Next Academic Paper Ends: The Way Forward

    Posted by Jonathan on February 16th, 2018 (All posts by )

    First, the commentators above (along with other commentators) believe their position carries a strong presumption of correctness (if not certitude), that it is my duty to displace that presumption, and that they will be the judges if I have carried that burden. Certainly, I have never agreed to such terms for this debate. Nor should I. The text of the Constitution does not expressly state that the Foreign Emoluments Clause applies to the President. The text of the Constitution does not expressly define the scope of the Constitution’s “Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” language. The Supreme Court has had no occasion to address the scope of the clause or the meaning of the clause’s operative language (or even the scope of similar language in other clauses.). As educated generalists who have chosen to recently inject themselves into this debate, their opinions should get a hearing. I would add: so should mine. And since, what is involved here is a debate between opinions lacking firm judicial support, our divergent ideas (and we) meet as equals. I add that the Legal Historians are supporting the plaintiffs in active litigation. Generally, in civil litigation, the burden of proof, production, and persuasion falls on the plaintiff, not on the defendant.
     
    Second, it is time for my intellectual opponents to be fair. Claims that they have made that they know or now know to be incorrect should be withdrawn or revised. Claims that they have made asserting the existence of documentary support, should be supported, and promptly, with actual documents—or else the claims should be withdrawn. If they have to go through this process repeatedly, they might ask themselves if their position (and expertise) is really as strong as they have led themselves and others to believe.
     
    Third, it is time for my intellectual opponents to be forthcoming in regard to an improved debate and debate atmosphere—an atmosphere rooted in mutual respect and goodwill…

    Read the whole thing.

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    Posted in History, Law, Politics, Trump | No Comments »

    Attack of the Job-Killing Robots, Part 3

    Posted by David Foster on February 13th, 2018 (All posts by )

    The final months of World War II included the first-ever battle of robots:  on one side, the German V-1 missile and on the other, an Allied antiaircraft system that automatically tracked the enemy missiles, performed the necessary fire-control computations, and directed the guns accordingly. This and other wartime projects greatly contributed to the understanding of the feedback concept and the development of automatic control technology.  Also developed during the war were the first general-purpose programmable digital computers: the Navy/Harvard/IBM Mark I and the Army/MIT ENIAC…machines that, although incredibly limited by our presented-day, standards were at the time viewed with awe and often referred to as ‘thinking machines.’

    These wartime innovations in feedback control and digital computation would soon have enormous impact on the civilian world.

    This is one in a continuing series of posts in which I attempt to provide some historical context for today’s discussions of automation and its impact on jobs and society…a context of which people writing about this topic often seem to have little understanding.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, History, Tech | 9 Comments »

    A 60 Year Old Fighter Design – Still Operational

    Posted by David Foster on February 10th, 2018 (All posts by )

    In 2009, Neptunus Lex paid tribute to the MIG-21, which he referred to as “a noble adversary.”  At the time, it appeared that the airplane was about to be phased out of service by those countries still operating it.  Didn’t happen that way. though…the airplane is still in use by several countries, most notably India, which still operates more than 200 of them.

    Design studies for the MIG-21  began in 1953, with first flight in 1958 and production shipments beginning in 1959.  As analogy for the design’s longevity, imagine the Red Baron’s Fokker triplane from 1918 still being employed in a military role in the post-Vietnam era of 1977!

    An article asks: is the MIG-21 is the fighter jet that could fly for 100 years?  Probably not, I imagine, at least in any kind of operational role…but it’s already done pretty well in longevity terms for a combat airplane.

    There are some web pages on the MIG-21 by a former East German fighter pilot.

    Also, there’s a pretty decent movie, based on real events, about the 1966 Israeli operation to steal a MIG-21 from Iraq.  The moviemakers were evidently unable to get their hands on a real MIG-21 (in 1988), so a MIG-15 was used for the flying scenes instead.

    More MIG-21 information here.

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    Posted in Aviation, India, Russia, Tech, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    Civil war or just uncivil society?

    Posted by Margaret on February 8th, 2018 (All posts by )

    It seems that at least once a week I read an article predicting that the extreme political divisions in our country will lead to an actual civil war. “The country hasn’t been this divided since 1860!” is a common refrain.

    Divided, yes. But leading to war? I don’t think so.

    Those who actually know all about our Civil War may wish to correct me; I admit that discussion of this topic in my Georgia high school was so frequent and so prolonged that I did my best to sink into a coma whenever the subject came up. Even so, I think I grasped a few general points about that war which differentiate it from the present situation.

    (1) The war was driven by one major moral/economic dispute, even if the two sides described it differently. (North: “Slavery is wrong.” South: “Our economy depends on slavery. Besides, states’ rights.”)
    (2) The opposing sides were (mostly) geographically divided.
    (3) There were, on both sides, people who were willing to actually fight with something more lethal than a sarcastic Tweet.

    Now look at the current mess.
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Civil Society, History, Leftism | 82 Comments »

    With a Pillow

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on February 6th, 2018 (All posts by )

    In Iowahawk’s deathless phrase regarding the establishment press, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.” Here it is a weekend and a couple of working days after the release of the notorious and long-awaited FISA memo, and the relatively conservative side of the blogosphere is still happily chewing it over. Doubtless the professional national media wishes the whole matter would just go away already, just because. Frankly, the whole matter reminds me of the swiftboat veterans and the matter of John Kerry’s service in Vietnam.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Big Government, Blogging, Crime and Punishment, Current Events | 30 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on February 6th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Theodore Dalrymple:

    But censorship by language reform is not a matter of logic, it is a matter of power. As Humpty Dumpty said, it is a question of who is to be master (if one may still be allowed the word), that’s all.

    Like many things.

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    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Rhetoric | 1 Comment »

    Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman: The Emoluments Clauses Litigation, Part 6: Are the Claims Against the President in his Official or Individual Capacity?

    Posted by Jonathan on February 6th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Arguments progress:

    On January 25, 2018, Judge Messitte held oral arguments in Greenbelt, Maryland. Blackman attended. The very first question from the bench referenced our amicus briefs, and asked the parties to address whether the Maryland Complaint concerns actions taken in the President’s official or individual capacity. Over the course of nearly five hours of argument time, counsel for the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia maintained that Trump’s receipt of (purported) emoluments concerned his official capacity. But once confronted by skeptical questions from the bench, Plaintiffs volunteered to amend their complaint to bring claims against the President in his individual capacity.
     
    Judge Messitte did not order the Plaintiffs to amend their complaint, but during the hearing, counsel for Plaintiffs represented that they would do so in due course, presumably through a Rule 15 motion. At the hearing, the Justice Department did not indicate that it would oppose such a motion—rather, the Government suggested that it would file a new motion to dismiss. In short, the Maryland action, which had been set either to be dismissed or to proceed onto discovery, now sits in limbo awaiting a Rule 15 motion to amend, a new round of briefing on a motion to dismiss (and possibly in regard to the Rule 15 motion too), and, presumably, a new oral argument on the revised motion to dismiss (and, perhaps, also in regard to the Rule 15 motion). Moreover, all Plaintiffs have to do, to move the litigation into its new “path,” the obvious direction it should always have been in, is to change the Complaint’s caption and the 1-page prayer for relief; yet, it is now more than a week later, and still no amended complaint has been filed.

    Read the whole thing.

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    Posted in History, Law, Politics, Trump | No Comments »

    The Details of Work and the Realities of Automation

    Posted by David Foster on February 5th, 2018 (All posts by )

    An interesting piece on the automation of trucking, with an extensive comment thread.  Many of the commenters have practical experience in the trucking industry and in automation work in other industries such as sawmills.

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    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Tech, Transportation | 7 Comments »

    Trump’s “American Heritage Pheromone Fumigation” of The Federal Gov’t and The Coming Defenestration of The Deep State

    Posted by Trent Telenko on February 4th, 2018 (All posts by )

    So what did you all think of Pres Trump’s SOTU “American Heritage Pheromone Fumigation” of the Congress?   Trump’s systemic use of American symbols and American success stories, in short American Patriotism, had political and media elites melting down.  The videos of the Democrats during and after Trump’s speech  certainly showed a lot of people who were acting like they were smelling week old road kill.

    So what was Pres. Trump up too and what does the Nunes Memo have to do with it?

    On the surface, Trump mentioned nothing about the FBI and Department of Justice civil rights abuses of his campaign and the spying on him during the first six months of his Administration, detailed in the Nunes Memo.  Despite the President reading and vetting it during his preparation for the State of The Union Address and executing plans against these scoff law internal security thugs.

    Huge hint — It was part and parcel of Trump’s long term political strategy tree in setting up the Nunes Memo release last Friday (2 Feb 2018).  So far only Daniel Greenfield over at Frontpage understands anything at all of what Trump was doing.

    See:

    https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/269181/trump-divides-americans-and-un-americans-daniel-greenfield

    Understanding Trump’s Political Strategy Tree
    Most Presidents are the head of a major political party faction who win the nomination as head of faction that unites the party for the general election. Then the party sells an agenda to the general public to govern in a wider governing political coalition.
     .
    President Trump, in contrast, is building a governing coalition -AFTER- he was elected.  He was his own party faction in the GOP and he is willing and messaging into existence a resurgent, predominantly working class/suburban/rural “Heritage America” as his governing coalition.  This general public coalition is dragging existing GOP party factions to Pres. Trump to unite the GOP under his banner.
     .
    The only DC politico that seems to understand what is going on is Texas Tea Party-elected U.S. Senator Ted Cruz with his talk of nuking the filibuster.
     .
    The Senate filibuster now is about retaining the “Uniparty” elites last real hold on elective power in DC.  The GOPe Senators who want to keep the filibuster want to use it against political factions in their own party, not the Democrats.  The Senate  filibuster’s destruction will mark the full blossom of Trump’s populist hostile take over of the Federal government.
     .
    And carefully note, those pro-filibuster GOP senators are mostly #NeverTrump, open borders,  tools of the Deep State, and they start throwing accusations off racism, sexism, Alt-Right white nationalism etc when ever Trump uses his “American Heritage Pheromone” shtick.
     .

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Speeches, Trump, USA | 55 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz are Well-Traveled

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on February 3rd, 2018 (All posts by )

    A guide to spiritual enlightenment can be found anywhere … even by the side of the road.

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    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Tocqueville Foresaw This

    Posted by David Foster on January 31st, 2018 (All posts by )

    In California, a bill has been introduced providing for a $1000 fine and a 6-month jail sentence for waiters and other restaurant staff offering plastic straws to customers without those straws being specifically requested by the customer.

    Alexis de Tocqueville:

    [The power of government] covers the surface of so­ciety with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power… does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, until each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and hard-working animals, of which the government is the shepherd.’

    I disagree with Tocqueville about “such a power..does not tyrannize”, it certainly does tyrannize, and to a greater degree than many of the kings and emperors of the past.  Neither George III or Kaiser Wilhelm II ever thought to issue edicts about which pronouns people were allowed to use.  This California bill is in the true spirit of the totalitarianisms of the 20th century:  Naziism and Communism.

    Speaking of totalitarianism, here’s Arthur Koestler, in his novel Darkness at Noon.  Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who has been arrested by the Stalinist regime, is reflecting on his Communist beliefs and where they may have led him astray.

    A short time ago , our leading agriculturist, B , was shot with thirty of his collaborators because he maintained the opinion that nitrate artificial manure was superior to potash. No. 1 is all for potash; therefore B. and the thirty had to be liquidated as saboteurs. In a nationally centralized agriculture , the alternative of  nitrate or potash is of enormous importance: it can decide the issue of the next war. If No. 1 was in the right, history will absolve him, and the execution of the thirty-one men will be a mere bagatelle. If he was wrong . . .

    Isn’t this reminiscent of today’s leftists who say that climate change is a a matter of “enormous importance”, it can decide not something as relatively minor as “the issue of the next war” but the entire fate of the human race and hence, free speech on this matter must be suppressed?

    Koestler’s Rubashov explains to himself that since the Revolution has overthrown all the rules of ‘cricket-morality’, the State is now ‘sailing without ballast’…and begins to see where this must inevitably lead:

    to settle a difference of opinion, we know only one argument: death, whether it is a matter of submarines, manure, or the Party line to be followed in Indo-China. Our engineers work with the constant knowledge that an error in calculation may take them to prison or the scaffold; the higher officials in our administration ruin and destroy their subordinates, because they know that they will be held responsible for the slightest slip and be destroyed themselves; our poets settle discussions on questions of style by denunciations to the Secret Police, because the expressionists consider the naturalistic style counter-revolutionary, and vice versa.

    We are not yet at the point in America where people are sentenced to physical death for political deviations, but now on a regular basis people have their careers destroyed–sometimes a form of economic death–for such deviations.

    And it is worth noting that the California bill in question was introduced not by some back-bencher no one has ever heard of, but by the Democratic Majority Leader of the California Assembly.

    
    
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    Posted in Book Notes, Leftism, Russia, USA | 30 Comments »

    Their Own Worst Enemy

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 29th, 2018 (All posts by )

    A discussion at According to Hoyt this last week developed from a long look the recent so-called “woman’s march”; an event which appeared to really be an open-air scream therapy session for a certain subset of the human population. They had the opportunity to mingle with others of their ilk, dress up in pink hats and vagina costumes and inform the rest of the world (yet again) of their acute unhappiness that Hillary, the Dowager Duchess of Chappaqua, formerly known as Her Inevitableness had not been able to win an election rigged in her favor, and that Donald Trump was currently the President of the United States. MS Hoyt speculated on what, exactly, the protesters were on about; what rights were imperiled, exactly? What did all the feel-good, content-free slogans have to do with anything in the lives of real, live women and men working for a living? And how did dressing up as an anatomically sort-of-correct vagina have to do with anything, in the real world. And in the long run, weren’t such pointless demonstrations of hysteria actually counter-productive, in that genuine misogynists would point to them as proof positive that women were too flighty, too emotional, too damn silly to manage anything, let alone their own lives.
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Big Government, Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Feminism | 18 Comments »

    “This Civil War – My South Carolina Tea Party Convention Speech”

    Posted by Jonathan on January 28th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Daniel Greenfield:

    The attacks on Trump show that elections don’t matter to the left.
     
    Republicans can win an election, but they have a major flaw. They’re not leftists.
     
    That’s what the leftist dictatorship looks like.
     
    The left lost Congress. They lost the White House. So what did they do? They began trying to run the country through Federal judges and bureaucrats.
     
    Every time that a Federal judge issues an order saying that the President of the United States can’t scratch his own back without his say so, that’s the civil war.
     
    Our system of government is based on the constitution, but that’s not the system that runs this country.
     
    The left’s system is that any part of government that it runs gets total and unlimited power over the country.
     
    If it’s in the White House, then the president can do anything. And I mean anything. He can have his own amnesty for illegal aliens. He can fine you for not having health insurance. His power is unlimited.
     
    He’s a dictator.
     
    But when Republicans get into the White House, suddenly the President can’t do anything. He isn’t even allowed to undo the illegal alien amnesty that his predecessor illegally invented.
     
    A Democrat in the White House has “discretion” to completely decide every aspect of immigration policy. A Republican doesn’t even have the “discretion” to reverse him.
     
    That’s how the game is played. That’s how our country is run.
     
    [. . .]
     
    The Trump years are going to decide if America survives. When his time in office is done, we’re either going to be California or a free nation once again.

    Read the whole thing.

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    Posted in Big Government, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tea Party, Trump | 15 Comments »

    What Happened Last Weekend ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on January 23rd, 2018 (All posts by )

    Last weekend, the Democrats in the Senate refused to vote for a Continuing Resolution to fund the US government.

    Why ? Because they wanted a law to legalize the thousands of illegal aliens in a status called “DACA” or Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.

    The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.

    Thus these illegal aliens were given the right to remain and to work in this country. Why ?

    The policy was established by executive action rather than legislation; however, participating individuals were sometimes referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill, a bipartisan bill first proposed in 2001 that was the first of a number of subsequent bills in the U.S. House and Senate attempting to provide a pathway to citizenship or other legal status for certain undocumented residents who immigrated illegally as children and subsequently completed some college or military service.[2]

    This is mostly a myth.

    Victor Davis Hanson explains some of the mythology.

    College graduation and military service are often referenced as DACA talking points. In truth, some studies suggest that just one in 20 dreamers graduated from college. One in a 1,000 has served in the military. So far, about eight times more Dreamers have not graduated from high school than have graduated from college.

    I examine military applicants and am unaware of any “Dreamers.”

    Then again, are the DACA people just 700,000 ? Or are they millions ?

    To be eligible, illegal immigrants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship,[39] nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.

    They are widely eligible for free college education or, at least, to be given resident status for tuition.

    Many of these people entered as “Unaccompanied Minors. “

    A significant number are teenaged gangsters like the MS 13 gangs in Maryland and Virginia.

    Almost one-third of 214 U.S.-based MS-13 gang members arrested in an international sweep were invited into the United States by President Barack Obama’s “Unaccompanied Alien Children” policy.
    The successful “Raging Bull’ sweep was announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Deputy Director Tom Homan in a joint press conference at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

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    Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Immigration | 47 Comments »

    Are Those Robots Slacking Off on the Job?

    Posted by David Foster on January 23rd, 2018 (All posts by )

    Much concern is being expressed these days about technological unemployment driven by robotics, artificial intelligence, etc.  But labor productivity numbers have been more in the direction of stagnation than in the direction of a sharp break upwards…see for example this BLS analysis.  Note especially Chart 5, which compares productivity growth in three periods:  1947-2007, 2001-2007, and 2009-2016.

    See also this piece, which looks at total factor productivity across continents.

    So, what is going on here?  Why have the remarkable innovations and heavy corporate and government investments in technology not had more of a positive effect on productivity?  I have my own ideas, but am curious about what others think.

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    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Management, Tech, USA | 6 Comments »

    Tax Reform Impact – Capital Gains and Investment Income

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on January 21st, 2018 (All posts by )

    Recently I was at Powell’s bookstore In Oregon when I came across this book which attempts to be an introduction to the complexities of taxation. I thought that this was in the spirit of what I was going to try to do as I start to review the 2017 Tax Reform act and its’ myriad impacts on the economy and individual incentives.







    As an individual investor, I started with looking at capital gains and investment income. Some thoughts:


    1. The same general split applies; long term gains are taxed at favorable (lower) rates, and short term gains are taxed as ordinary income. The ordinary income tax brackets are always higher than the capital gains brackets

    2. The tax rates for capital gains are 0, 15% and 20%. These are the same as under the previous tax laws.
    Here is a brief article from the Motley Fool

    3. The rates on ordinary income have gone down a bit, so the average person would pay less on gains, all else being equal (but this gets into your state and the standard deduction, a different topic). Thus there is no significant impact on investments here, it should be slightly favorable

    4. Although there was talk of changing the way stock sales are accounted for to limit “tax loss harvesting”, these changes did not occur. I believe that you can still deduct up to $3000 in losses against ordinary income, but I haven’t been able to find that yet to confirm either

    5. The 3.8% surtax on gains if your income is above $250,000 remains the same; this does not seem to be impacted by the law

    6. While there were changes throughout the code that impacted REITS (real estate limited trusts) and MLP’s (Master Limited Partnerships), these changes didn’t fundamentally impact their value to classes of high income investors (they still have favorable tax characteristics)

    7. There was some discussion of eliminating the Federal tax free nature of municipal bonds, but that deduction remained intact

    8. There also was some discussion of changing the 401(k) deductions; this too, remained intact


    Thus for investors, the basics of investing for individual investors (not the super wealthy) and the impact of taxation did not see significant changes under the new tax law. The types of tactics you would use under the prior tax law mostly moved into the new environment intact.




    Cross Posted at LITGM

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    Posted in Taxes | 10 Comments »

    Bonhoeffer on Stupidity and the Public Sphere

    Posted by David Foster on January 19th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who became a leading member of an anti-Nazi conspiracy, wrote the following while he was in prison awaiting execution:

    Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

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    Posted in Big Government, Deep Thoughts, Germany, Human Behavior, Leftism | 11 Comments »

    Flyoverphobia

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 17th, 2018 (All posts by )

    So, there has always been a tension existing between city folks and country folks; the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse being an example. Then there are all those jokes about the city slicker and the country bumpkin, the effete city dweller and the down-to-earth country folk, the books, movies and television series painting the city as a glamorous yet spiritually and physically unhealthy place, the country being dull, desperately boring, backwards, even a bit dangerous … all in the spirit of good fun, mostly. But now we have a new and malignant version, and there is nothing at all fun about it. Here we have the bicoastal enclaves, all drawn as the glamorous and fabulously wealthy, sensitive and with-it woke folks … and then you have the flyover country in between, filled with – as the bicoastal see it – with those hateful, stupid looser deplorables, clinging to their guns, and religion, and hating on all those with darker skins.
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Deep Thoughts, Entrepreneurship, Leftism, Trump | 38 Comments »

    Shithole Countries

    Posted by Jonathan on January 13th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Anecdote of a recent conversation:

    A: Where are you from?

    B: A bad part of Kingston.

    A: What part is that?

    B: All of it.

    Did Trump say “shithole”? It sounds like his typical bombast that enrages people who don’t like him. It also sets a trap for his political opponents by reframing the conversation. The questions whether we should favor immigrants from specific countries and with specific personal qualifications are back in play. Many voters think these questions are important despite the continuing efforts of establishment pols of both parties to stipulate them as beyond the pale. The attempt to conflate the characterizations of countries and of individuals is a rhetorical sleight of hand intended to dismiss doubts about mass-immigration by unskilled people from dysfunctional countries. Ann Althouse nailed this point. The doubts are reasonable — Wouldn’t the French and Germans have been better off heeding such concerns in the recent past? Shutting up people who express such thoughts may be more likely in the long run to lead to an immigration moratorium or other crude measures than to convince the doubters to acquiesce in the admission to the USA of more unvetted young Somali and Central American men.

    What Trump was saying, as ordinary people will understand it, is obviously true: We should encourage immigration based on our country’s needs rather than on the needs of prospective immigrants; we should favor people who are likely to be highly productive; and we should attempt to screen out criminals, terrorists and people who are mainly interested in welfare-state subsidies.

    There are many talented people in Haiti, but as a country Haiti is troubled and unproductive, which is why so many Haitians want to leave. Perhaps Mia Love is bound to criticize Trump based on Trump’s crudeness of expression and reported disrespectful words, but Trump is right. There were good reasons for Congresswoman Love’s family to leave Haiti for the USA. We are lucky to have them, but that’s not the same thing as saying that we should let in every Haitian who wants to come here. We should be more selective and we should reform our immigration bureaucracy to make things easier for the people we want.

    We can expect additional inflammatory stories about Trump’s supposed racism and other character flaws while his negotiations with Congress on immigration continue.

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    Posted in Immigration, Politics, Rhetoric, Trump | 69 Comments »

    It’s looking as though the Trump team surveillance was done without a FISA warrant.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on January 10th, 2018 (All posts by )

    The war between President Trump and his government and the Democrats is heating up.

    Yesterday Diane Feinstein declassified and released the Simpson testimony transcript.

    In doing so, Feinstein and her Democratic colleagues are acting at Simpson’s behest. In his recent New York Times op-ed column (written with his colleague Peter Fritsch), Simpson complained about Republicans’ leak of selected details from his testimony to various congressional committees.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley has resisted the release of the transcript while the committee has yet to complete its investigation. Senator Grassley is not happy with Feinstein.

    One assumption, that I think well founded, is that this was done to coach subsequent witnesses to get their stories straight.

    Kim Strassel is one who has been reporting on this She has a new report.

    consider an email recently disclosed by the Young Turks Network, a progressive YouTube news channel. It’s dated Dec. 19, 2017, and its author is April Doss, senior counsel for the committee’s Democrats, including Vice Chairman Mark Warner.

    Ms. Doss was writing to Robert Barnes, an attorney for Charles C. Johnson, the controversial and unpleasant alt-right blogger. Mr. Johnson’s interactions with Julian Assange inspired some in the media to speculate last year that Mr. Johnson had served as a back channel between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. There’s still no proof, but in July the Intelligence Committee sent a letter requesting Mr. Johnson submit to them any documents, emails, texts or the like related to “any communications with Russian persons” in a variety of 2016 circumstances, including those related to “the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign.”

    Mr. Barnes seems to have wanted clarification from Ms. Doss about the definition of “Russian persons.” And this would make sense, since it’s a loose term. Russians in Russia? Russians in America? Russians with business in the country? Russians who lobby the U.S. and might be affected by the election—though not in contact with campaigns?

    Ms. Doss’s response was more sweeping than any of these: “The provision we discussed narrowing was clarifying that the phrase ‘Russian persons’ in [the committee letter] may be read to refer to persons that Mr. Johnson knows or has reason to believe are of Russian nationality or descent”.

    This is actually humorous. “Russian descent?” There are now jokes about ordering Russian Dressing in DC can get you investigated.

    The truth is not as funny.

    It looks like the surveillance of the Trump campaign was done by DOJ and the FBI without warrants at all. That is very illegal and should put some people in prison.

    President Obama’s political operatives within the DOJ-NSD were using FISA 702(17) surveillance “about inquiries” that would deliver electronic mail and phone communication for U.S. people (Trump campaign). The NSD unit (John Carlin) was working in coordination with the FBI Counterintelligence Unit (Bill Priestap, Peter Strzok etc.) to look at this campaign activity. DOJ Attorney Lisa Page was the intermediary between the DOJ National Security Division and he FBI Counterintelligence Division.

    In an effort to stop the FISA 702(17) activity NSA Director Mike Rogers initiated a full 702 compliance review. However, before the review was complete the DOJ-NSD had enough information for their Russian narrative; which was built upon FISA-702(17) that began in July ’16 per James Comey. Mike Rogers stopped the FISA702(17) process on October 26th 2016. As a result of his identifying the activity, Rogers became a risk; DNI James Clapper demanded he be fired.

    The plot was the “insurance policy” Strzok mentioned. The story is becoming more clear every day.

    On November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers went to see President-Elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower, New York. –SEE HERE– Director Rogers never told his boss DNI, James Clapper.

    ♦ On November 18th, 2016, the Trump Transition Team announced they were moving all transition activity to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. –SEE HERE– Where they interviewed and discussed the most sensitive positions to fill. Defense, State, CIA, ODNI.

    The transition team was set up in Trump Tower. The very next day, November 18th 2016, Trump moves the entire transition team to Bedminister New Jersey?

    Does this make more sense now?

    Yes, it does.

    It looks like they dd not even apply for a FISC warrant after they were turned down in July. They just “did it.”

    Sort of like the scene from “Absence of Malice.”

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    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Elections, Trump | 32 Comments »